She raised her head weakly and stared at us gratefully.
“I should have never left you guys,” she muttered weakly. “I shouldn’t have left…”
“Shh,” I murmured, gently dropping her head back onto the pillow. “I’m going to give you something for the pain now. It’s going to hurt like hell when I cauterize the shot but if I don’t, you’ll bleed out.”
“Do what you have to do, Doc,” she mumbled and I could see she was losing consciousness again.
I needed to work fast and I signaled for the others to help me.
“Stevie, get the chopper ready,” I instructed. “We’re getting the hell out of here within the hour.”
It was my first time on a helicopter and I found myself wary about the eight of us traveling in such a small vessel but Graham assured me it was perfectly safe.
And if Graham was claiming it was safe, I couldn’t really be worried, could I? He was the biggest alarmist out of all of them.
We rose into the blackened sky and I looked down at the frozen landscape with bittersweet emotions.
It seemed like a lifetime ago that I’d wanted to come on this trip, so young and idealistic, so full of hope and inspiration.
That wasn’t even a week ago.
Now, I was running for my life in a helicopter with a bunch of stranger-turned-lovers, wondering where the hell it had all gone so wrong.
Or had it gone right?
To say I was confused was an understatement. I couldn’t settle on a single emotion. In one moment, I was staring around the chopper with adoration dripping from my eyes. My gaze darted from one concerned face to another and a part of me wanted to strip off my clothes and have my way with all of them in the helicopter, thinking about how hot it would be.
I quickly decided against it, simply for safety’s sake, no matter how tempting it was.
Then, I I’d peer down into endless waters of the North Atlantic below us and I would realize how close I’d been to death.
In those moments, shudders would encompass my body. Bash and Dan would sandwich me between them until I was still again.
“Where are we going?” I asked. We’d been flying for over an hour and again, the rush of fear seized me.
“We’re going to stop for fuel in Scotland,” Graham explained over his headset. He was piloting the chopper. “We can figure out a plan from there.” I wondered if there was no end to the talents of my men. Drillers, accountants, helicopter pilots, sexual deviants. What else would I learn about them?
I looked forward to finding out.
“How long until we get there?” I asked.
“A couple hours,” came the reply and Bash squeezed my hand.
“Just relax,” he murmured and despite my overwhelming anxiety, I found his nearness soothing.
“I’ll try,” I agreed, dropping my head against his shoulder.
* * *
We arrived in Inverness before dawn but the sky had already lightened enough by five a.m. that I realized I was going to see dawn at its proper time for once since I’d left home.
Speaking of home, I’d need to get in touch with Alex ASAP. I’d promised to call her today and she’d be in a panic if I didn’t. My phone was still on the bathroom floor at the research facility where I’d dropped it. What was it with me losing phones? First I’d left one the day the storm had started and then I dropped my backup. Maybe if I wasn’t in mortal danger all the time, I’d be more careful.
In any event, I’d need to pick one up in town, just to keep in touch with Alex. After the scares I’d given her, she’d be on the phone with Interpol if I went a day without being in touch.
“We should stay here for a couple days and figure out a plan,” my ever-sensible Dan said when we gathered at the helipad. “We’re off the radar here but we need to work out where we’re going to stay.”
There was a nod of consensus.
“Let’s find a hotel,” Harry suggested and I looked at him gratefully. There was nothing I wanted more than to have a hot shower and curl up in a warm, comfy bed with my guardian angels.
“Shouldn’t be too hard,” Jim mused. “This is a bit of a tourist location.”
I wouldn’t have guessed it, being in the Scottish Highlands but it turned out that Jim was right and we found ourselves at the Kingsmill Hotel, a reverted mansion turned inn.
“It’s not the cabin but it will do,” Jim chuckled and I felt a stab of guilt for uprooting their lives.
We were piled into the room the men had reserved for me and I sank onto the bed, shaking my head.
“It’s not too late for you to go back,” I told them earnestly. “You’ve gotten me to safety now. I can fend for myself.”